Normally this is where the "Devil" comes in and does his little song and dance about the gaming community. I came across a particular subject today though that I felt I had to speak upon.
I'm a huge fan of Penny Arcade (if you are too than you can see where this is going). I love the guys behind the strip and the work they've done. Their humor and entertainment have brought me many moments of levity at times in life when I felt down and out. So when I saw that someone was berating them for a strip they had written, my initial gut reaction was to defend the thing I love and dismiss the party I knew next to nothing about. I had read about the conflict between Courtney Stanton and the Penny Arcade guys earlier this morning and it was actually the first I had heard of the controversy regarding the Dickwolves.
I know for a lot of you, you're probably thinking “Sam, what are you talking about and why should I care?” So rather than try and fail to explain both sides of the issue I'll link you to the comic that caused the controversy, one of Courtney's posts about the comic and a post from the Penny Arcade people. I know this is a lot of required reading for one post, but I think you'll find it all very engaging. For those of you who refuse to read I'll just say that the controversy revolves around the liberal use of the word “rape.”
I remember reading that particular strip and not thinking much of it, I'm sure it got a laugh out of me, but otherwise I read it and went about my day. So to hear that a strip written back in August of last year had been the catalyst for a very engaging and far reaching dispute was quite shocking.
When I read through Courtney's blog and her posts regarding her feelings revolving around the strip, I thought to myself "Wow, really? Way to hold a grudge." And I tried to just write her off as a "crazy internet person." Like I said, I'm a Penny Arcade fan-boy. I was just gonna put on my little blinders and keep on whistling my happy tune.
Then I got into my car and began to drive, typically this is when I enter adult mode and gain the ability to consider both sides of an issue. I think my mind is allowed to do this because it's as far away from the internet as I can get. As I drove, I kept thinking about the things that Courtney had said and I kept reflecting upon my own views. At the heart of this matter are two ideas: The power we give to words and the responsibility we have when saying them.
Most of us would probably agree that people have the right to say whatever they want. However, when this right is put into practice it should also come with the understanding that we must wield this great power with greater responsibility. Some people would attempt to dismiss this notion though by saying that if we did not give harmful words the power that they have, then we would not be affected by them. I think we sometimes forget though that some of us do not have the option of removing power to certain words. Often times someone else has applied the power to the word and forced it upon them. For some of us, there are words with meanings so powerful that they transcend being just vocabulary.
Keep in mind, I had this shocking revelation that has now changed my perspective in a 30 minute car drive.
So where does that leave me? Well I can't control what other people say and I don't want to be that guy going out there and wagging my finger in other people's faces. That's just not my thing. What I can do though is control what I say and promise not to perpetuate any more harmful words on this blog. I know I've jokingly used the word "rape" in the past on this blog and I'm going to pledge to go back and remove those jokes. My hope is that one day the Halloween Blues transcends me and becomes it's own entity that is accessible to everyone. I want to unify people in their love of Halloween and it would hurt me greatly to know that I alienated even one person because of a poor choice of words.
I also want to thank Courtney Stanton. You're a strongly opinionated woman and that terrifies me, but I greatly admire your courage to stand up for not just yourself, but so many others. I like to think that I'm an ever evolving life-form and today you played a vital role in that process.